Board Facts NOT a Dumpster Fire

The false accusations made by an opinion piece in the State paper must be corrected. David Thomas Bland published an opinion piece in which he compared our fine district to a Dumpster Fire, He even included a picture of a dumpster fire in Myrtle Beach to clarify his meaning. Mr. Bland’s criticism is not only cruel, but it is also factually incorrect and disingenuous. In his attempt to play politics and discredit the current board, it is evident that he has no regard for the great work our superintendent, staff, and teachers are doing every day to educate our children.

He alleged that we did not allow a speaker to address the board. The fact is the speaker was accompanied by a group of unruly, angry protesters led by former board chair Beth Burn Watson Hutchinson and Ellen Baumgartner. It should be noted that Ms. Baumgartner was defeated 4 years ago and Ms. Hutchinson chose not to run. They were there to attack a sitting board member about a situation that had nothing to do with our school board agenda nor did their request to protest have anything to do with school concerns. It involved a personal matter of which the board is not part, however, she was allowed to change her topic to a topic that was on the agenda, It also needs to be noted that the two former board members were accompanied by a person that brought a gun into the school building. When the device detected the gun, she was allowed to return it to her car. She was allowed to return to the meeting. Given the climate across our nation with safety and guns in our school, it is quite alarming that this disruptive and angry group would have someone forget the gun was on her person.

It is quite appalling that the 2 former board members would have been part of a disruptive group. It was noted by several witnesses that Ms. Hutchinson tried to bring signs into the meeting room. When staff reminded her that this was not allowed, she then propped them up in the window in the building hallway. No signs are allowed and she certainly served on the board long enough to know that.

As for the lawsuit against Dr. Hefner, let me give you the facts on that issue. Dr. Hefner filed a frivolous and factually incorrect complaint with D5’s accrediting agency COGNIA. He also published it with Mr. Bland’s employer, the State newspaper in an effort to discredit our great district, without ever contacting Dr. Ross or the board chair about any real concerns. In order to protect the reputation of District 5 we as a board were advised by our legal council to bring the lawsuit against Dr. Hefner to protect the district and the students from an untrue and frivolous complaint. COGNIA refused to act on the complaint. With the districts’ accreditation protected, the board took reasonable action and voted to dismiss the lawsuit. The State that published this original complaint did not publish the fact that the complaint was never acted on. You be the judge. It appears to be a smear campaign.

Mr. Bland references a lawsuit that his editor filed accusing the board of voting behind closed doors. Both Mr. Bland and his editor know that the board actions upon which the editor sued the school district have been voted on in the public and that board meetings are open to the public. Just another false story to discredit this hard-working board.

I invite Mr. Bland and any person interested in the education of children in District 5 to come to a board meeting and see the work District 5 is doing for its citizens and children. Anyone who does attend will find, in spite of Mr. Bland’s unpleasant article, District 5 is not a dumpster fire. Instead, it is people dedicating their time and energy to educating children to make our community a better place.

Jan Hammond